There is so much to love about the MLB All-Star Game. Of the four major men’s professional sports, it is the one that closest resembles the regular-season product while still having the fun and light-hearted moments. The NFL’s Pro Bowl is now flag football and the NHL has gone to minigames for its All-Stars. The NBA All-Star Game is the most entertaining and has only gotten more so with the Elam Ending.
So just like any run-of-the-mill MLB game, you never know what you will see. On Tuesday at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, it was the National League winning 3-2 over the American League, its first victory since 2012.
As for in-game shenanigans, this one was pretty mundane. However, the baseball was anything but. Terrific pitching, stellar defense, and a clutch hit provided some unforgettable moments. I picked out five that left an impression on me.
1. Unknown Hero
For all of you who say each team doesn’t need to be represented in the All-Star Game, we present Elias Díaz. Diaz was the lone member of the Colorado Rockies selected. At 32 years old, the veteran backup catcher made his All-Star debut Tuesday and crushed a go-ahead two-run homer for the NL.
After some ninth-inning dramatics in which NL closer Craig Kimbrel (Philadelphia Phillies) escaped despite facing hometown hero Julio Rodríguez (Seattle Mariners) and José Ramírez (Cleveland Guardians) with the tying run on base, Diaz walked away as the unlikely MVP. If you took a poll of who would win the award, Diaz likely would have been the last position player you would think of.
Diaz is the first Rockies catcher to make the All-Star Game and his home run came in his first plate appearance. He was a career backup until becoming the Rockies’ starter a couple of seasons ago and has a career slash numbers of .248/.302/.391, 4.5 bWAR and 82 OPS+. Of all the Colorado hitters to be All-Stars, Diaz is the first Rockies player to be named MVP.
Baseball is beautiful.
— MLB (@MLB) July 12, 2023
2. Courting Ohtani
It has been obvious since the final pitch of last season that this was going to be the year of Shohei Ohtani. The two-way Los Angeles Angels star is slated to become a free agent this coming offseason and will be the most sought-after commodity in the history of the market. Where will he go? Should the Angels deal him before the trade deadline? The chatter is incessant each day. Even his ability to do things impressed players drafted in the first round in three sports and a baseball Hall of Famer.
I would’ve loved to pitch & hit in @MLB like #Ohtani is doing now, before playing 2 sports @NBA, #ABA @NFL but teams didn’t have the vision back then. O well #AllStarGame2023 @CityofSeattle https://t.co/TUAbiACDpa
— Dave Winfield (@DaveWinfieldHOF) July 12, 2023
So, it was no surprise that it continued during the broadcast. In a funny moment, with the Fox broadcasters chatting with Los Angeles Dodgers teammates Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman as they were on the field, they were asked if they would like Ohtani on their team next season. Freeman immediately responded by saying that would be tampering, which it wouldn’t have been.
Ohtani became an even bigger story of the game when the crowd spontaneously broke out in a “Come to Seattle!” chant each time he came to the plate. Mariners fans have often witnessed the greatness of Ohtani with a rival AL West team.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) July 12, 2023
“Never experienced anything like that, but I definitely heard it. But I was trying to focus on my at-bat,” Ohtani said.
3. Opening Defense Statement
It didn’t take long for the first highlight of the All-Star Game. Nor the second. The third came just a bit later, but all three came in the first inning.
NL leadoff hitter Ronald Acuña Jr. (Atlanta) took the second pitch of the game from AL starter Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees) and drove it deep into right field. But Adolis García (Texas Rangers) went back and made a twisting, leaping catch just before hitting the wall. The next NL batter, Freddie Freeman (Atlanta) also sent one deep the opposite way, his going to left field, where Randy Arozarena (Tampa Bay Rays) had a better path than Garcia and similarly caught it as he banged into the wall.
The Cuban corner outfielders made sure to acknowledge each other following the second catch.
GARCIA AND AROZARENA BOTH ROB ONE AT THE WALL 💪
What a start to the Midsummer Classic.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) July 12, 2023
Not as awe-inspiring, but perhaps just as important considering how the game unfolded, NL catcher Sean Murphy showed off his arm and hooked up with Atlanta teammate Orlando Arcia to nail Arozarena trying to steal second base in the bottom half of the first.
— AtBraves ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@Braves) July 12, 2023
4. Julio Down By The Ballyard
The 2022 All-Star Game was a real breakthrough in terms of players wearing microphones and chatting with the broadcasters as they were performing. Two instances stood out. One was Alek Manoah (Toronto Blue Jays) as he was asking for info from Hall of Famer John Smoltz in the booth and just chatted with himself. The other was the pitch discussions between left-hander Nestor Cortes and his New York Yankees catcher teammate Jose Trevino.
While there wasn’t that level of actual inside baseball stuff from Tuesday’s mic’d up players, the best one was where the hometown star Rodriguez recalled his power displays from his days as a kid in the Dominican Republic and how he hit balls so far that he upset the neighbors.
Yea my bad to the old neighbors 😂 https://t.co/UywTjlG72x
— Julio Rodriguez🇩🇴🦁 (@JRODshow44) July 12, 2023
5. About Those Uniforms
They had zero effect on the game, other than distracting spectators from the action, but we have to talk about the uniforms. Last year and this year, with Nike taking over as the official uniform provider, MLB has gone with generic jerseys instead of players wearing ones representing their team. And most folks don’t like that and haven’t exactly endorsed the neutral Nike creations.
Last year, when the Los Angeles Dodgers hosted, the NL wore white tops and white pants with gold lettering, while the AL had gray tops and pants with the same gold lettering. The player’s team name was across the chest in the club’s script. Both teams wore black hats, again with gold logos. Overall, they had a pretty classic look.
But this year’s Seattle-inspired uniform sets felt all over the place.
The hometown AL had a light teal top and white pants, while the NL players were dressed in all dark navy blue. The jerseys for both teams had a print that combined elements of the ocean, forests, topography, and the movement of air. Across the chest was the name of the league, not the team, which made it more difficult to determine the team the player played for. A little team logo was on the left thigh. All hats were a minty green with the team logo and a massive patch on the side.
Since players individualize their cleats and gloves, the lack of cohesion was even more jarring. The AL had a better combo, especially with the NL looking like the players were wearing some sort of sweatpants, my first thought as I flipped on the game during the pregame introductions. On top of everything else, the batting helmets had either an A or N on the front and that logo looked like it was peeled off a sheet of letters you buy at Target.
If MLB is going to keep with the league-specific uniforms, there needs to be a lot more thought put into the combos.
— MLB Life (@MLBLife) July 12, 2023